Tag: Trent Reznor
It was announced today that Trent Reznor has decided to get Nine Inch Nails back together and play a whole mess of show later this year. However, “back together” is a fairly relative term when it comes to NIN. As of yesterday, there had been 21 different fellas who’ve played in the band with Reznor over the years, and today we’re getting the inclusion of 3 more. This has always been the design of the band, and for a sound that is essentially an industrialized military attack formulated in Reznor’s mind, it’s always worked quite well. I had never been the biggest fan of the band, but after seeing one of their last gigs at Bonnaroo in 2009 I was blown the fuck away. I can only imagine what the band will sound like now – bringing in the incomparable Adrian Belew from King Crismon on guitar? That’s just fucking nuts. Not only can the dude shred your living face off, but if you’ve ever seen videos of him playing with the Talking Heads then you know he’s also a brute force of a living rhythm machine. And then he’s also added Eric Avery, the bass player from Jane’s Addiction? Well, hot damn – this just became the top must-see band of 2013. But what’s interesting about all this, is that Reznor has this aura that’s akin to a jazz master – where you praise the main artist so much that you know that any incarnation of a band he’s going to hit the road with will be fucking amazing. There’s only 3 other current rock artists who also have the gall to do this, each with different levels of audience acceptance and success.
1) Axl Rose and Guns N’ Roses - Appetite for Destruction is arguably one of the greatest rock albums ever made, but not once did somebody ever hear it and say, “Ahh this backing band really doesn’t click with the singer.” I mean, c’mon, everybody has air-guitarred a Slash solo at some point. GNR was a fucking band above all bands – Izzy, Duff – even that junkie on drums – Axl’s dumbass move to think that he’s the only that anybody cares about in that band has severely hurt his street-cred over the years. If the original lineup got back together, they could playing arenas. Literally, they could see upwards of 100,000 tickets a show in various locales across the nation… and whole world. One of the worst lineup changes in the history of music.
2) James Mercer and The Shins - I really like the Shins, and their sound has been an enormous influence on the indie-world over the past decade. And while Mercer’s songs can at times be surprisingly complex, it’s never really been a band that you go see for a crazy guitar solo or even for any of the instrumental talent of the band. That being said, the band has always been great, and Mercer’s decision to constantly change the lineup over the years seems to be solely based on him making it clear that it’s his band and his band alone. Thus, in this lineup change situation, the moves have never really effected the quality of the music, but they have made even the most avid fan wonder the askew dimensions of Mercer’s introverted ego.
3) Billy Corgan and Smashing Pumpkins - In the early 90′s, the Pumpkins seemed like such a definitive picture of a full band. Sure, Corgan was the frontman, but the Eastern smile of James Iha on guitar and the dark, sultriness of D’arcy Elizabeth Wretzky on bass seemed like equally defining pieces of the puzzle. When inter-band bickering brought them to a split in 2000, it was a bummer, but it seemed to acknowledge that the band couldn’t continue without one another. Billy went on to do Zwan and some other solo shit, and things seemed cool. That is until 2005, when Corgan took out those huge ads in the Chicago newspapers saying he wanted to reunite the band. Sure the drummer came back, but Iha and Wretzky were no-shows. In my mind, that’s not a reunion, but the move of a guy who’s failing in his solo endeavors and in need of using his past notoriety to sell some albums. I had waning respect for Corgan already, but that seemed to make me lose it all. They’ve released 3 albums since then, one of which people say is actually pretty good – but I decided a while ago to not give a fuck.
Oh well – fame, music, and money always have a great way of fucking each other over.
Well yeah, of course we should care… it’s David Fucking Bowie for Christ’s sake. But the real question is whether or not this new song that suddenly appeared a couple days ago on his 66th birthday is any good. Well when I think of Bowie in the modern era, I think of 2 things. One is “I’m Afraid Of Americans,” the Trent Reznor collaboration from 1996, and two is when he came out with Arcade Fire to perform “Wake Up” in 2005 – the 2nd of those things being one of the greatest moments in music from the past decade. Seriously. So my initial instincts about any new Bowie music are that they’re either gonna be influenced by the weird industrialized feel or Reznor, or by the new generational epicness of Arcade Fire. Thus I was ironically a little surprised that this new track “Where are We Now” off his upcoming album, The Next Day, seems to be most influenced by old school David Bowie.
Here’s the thing… the first half of this song is ridiculously boring. It’s incredibly slow, with him just listing off names of places in Europe that none of us have heard of before. If it wasn’t the man himself who composed it, most people would write it off as mundane art-schlock by a Bowie wannabe. But the thing is, he is himself, and thus we have to give the music more than any random grain of salt. So while if it was somebody random I would have never made it to the end of the tune, I kept going with this one and realized that it’s actually pretty dope once the drums kick in around the 2:40 mark. It garners a very cinematic feel to it, and you can’t help but really dig on the closing lines that took him forever to get to: “As long as there’s sun/rain/me/you.” So yes, I’m glad this song exists, and it does deserve to be in the Bowie catalog, but it does leave a looming question of what the rest of this album portends to be. If this track is the centerpiece of the album, than there could be some boring shit on there but also some really cool, deep introspective old genius shit. If this is the highlight of the record, then we’re in for a long disparaging listen to one of our musical heroes. We’ll just have to wait and see, but for now the dude’s alive, he’s here, he’s making new music, and even though no one under the age of 25 will ever hear it, it’s worth it for some of us aging audiophiles to actually give a shit.
If you’ve seen links to this Zeppelin cover and have been afraid to check it out, I’m here to tell you it’s worth the 2 minutes and 53 seconds of your day. Ok, so “Immigrant Song” – essentially one of the most well-know bad-ass tunes in the pantheon of rock and roll. Now despite the black magic that lives in the hands of Jimmy Page, there’s 2 main reasons Led Zep covers usually, epically blow. One is that Robert Plant had a voice like none other – a quasi-feminine and eerie howl, that nobody has ever been able to live up to. Two is that without John Bonham, shit just never lives up to the original. Guy was the greatest drummer in rock history, hands-down, and nobody will ever be able to so gracefully assault their kit like that man did. But I’ll tell you what, in this cover – both of those issues have been resolved.
First off, Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs is in all likelihood, the most eerie and bad-ass chick rocker on the modern bill. She’s vicious and sensitive, and turns Plant’s turns-of-phrase into something that she could have actually written. The second issue gets resolved by Mr. Reznor, and his trademark industrial drum-looping. Essentially inventing that groove, he layers it in perfectly here in a much needed bout of repetition. If you can’t get John-Bon, then the next best thing is to have a killer metal-dance groove. I don’t know anything about The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, (which this is the soundtrack to,) other than that the book is supposed to be really easy reading that makes people feel smart – much akin to The Davinci Code. Anyway, take a minute – shit’s hot.